What Part of Marine Don't You Understand?
The Challenge Series
Matt McCall’s struggles to reintegrate into civilian life have been an ongoing battle for the better part of two years. Daily group sessions and weekly one-on-ones have only allowed him to grow so far. Twice he’s returned to his home state of Indiana and twice, he retreated to Mike’s Place. Uncertain of where he belongs in the world, he silently battles depression. The unexpected gift of Jethro, a black Labrador Retriever, perks his spirit…and a chance meeting in the park gives him a precious gift…
Aspiring country singer, Naomi Sparks, comes from a long line of Marines, so she knows all about sacrifice and struggle. When her Congressman brother asks her to visit Mike’s Place on his behalf, she discovers a real opportunity to make a difference. And meeting former Marine Matt McCall inspires her with the real challenge of discovering love and daring heroes who take risks. Writing music has never been so sweet….
Can one woman who believes in him really heal the wounds in this Marine’s heart?
“We should probably let you compose—without distraction.” He didn’t sound like he wanted to go.
“No, you’re exactly the kind of distraction I need.” Did she dare tell him? Oh, what the hell. He deserved to know. “You inspire me.”
Surprise rippled across his face. “I do?”
“Oh yeah. I even wrote a song about you last night….”
Wariness creased his brow. “Oh?”
Grinning, she started playing. If only performing in front of the world was as easy as singing for Matt. By the second refrain, he relaxed and by the last he laughed. The song detailed their kiss and exposed her vulnerability, her growing affection for him laid bare in every note. When the song ended, she held her breath and waited.
Matt leaned forward, rested a hand atop hers and brushed her mouth with the lightest, sweetest, and most heart-wrenching kiss. “Thank you.”
Her pulse jackrabbited. “You’re welcome.”
The bubble of tension wrapped around them burst with his slow grin. “No, I mean it. Thank you.”
“I didn’t do anything—I completely blame you for the song. You knocked on the door.”
He chuckled. “You opened it.”
“But you kissed me….”
Slanting his mouth across hers, he silenced any further words. He brushed his thumb across her knuckles, sending tingles racing across her nerves until she hummed like a guitar strung too tight. Every time she thought the kiss would end, he tilted his head to the other side and darted his tongue in and out, teasing her.
Nose to nose, he finally let her come up for air. “You kissed me back.”
“Yeah.” She laughed. “You kissed me again.”
“I did.” He nodded, brushing their noses together, whispering another kiss on her cheek and again to the corner of her eye. “You don’t mind, do you?”
Her laughter rode on a shuddering breath. “No, not at all.”